Potomac Highlands Watershed School

Cacapon River Watershed Readings

Excerpts from

Portrait of a River:

The Ecological Baseline of the Cacapon River

Read the entire document: Portrait of a River: The Ecological Baseline of the Cacapon River (2.5 mb, PDF)



     "No two sounds harmonize better than running water and singing birds," wrote one unknown explorer about a South American river. The thought applies to the Cacapon as well. Throughout the year, the river corridor is alive with birds.

     The Lab is involved in two efforts to monitor the health of bird populations in the basin. The first is an annual bird census float trip that surveys species nesting along the river in May. The second is the annual Hampshire County Christmas Bird Count, which has taken place since 1969.

     Both counts usually tally about 60 species. But the two seasons produce a very different list of the ten most common birds:

Top 10

Spring Winter
Red-eyed Vireo European Starling
Song Sparrow  Slate-colored Junco
Indigo Bunting Chickadee species
Scarlet Tanager American Crow
Eastern Phoebe House Sparrow
Tufted Titmouse Blue Jay
Acadian Flycatcher Northern Cardinal
Great-crested Flycatcher Tufted Titmouse
Wood Pewee Tree Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow White-breasted Nuthatch

      The spring list is rich in neotropical migrants birds that spend their winters in the tropics, but return here to breed. In contrast, the winter list is rich in resident birds that live here year-round.

 (See these articles in Cacapon: "Hampshire County Christmas Bird Count A Success," Winter 1993 "Winter Birds," Winter 1991* "Birds of the Cacapon River," Spring 1990 "Rivers end Birds," Spring 1989.)